rebel

Conscious Alliance Announces Holiday Meal Drive & Rebel Alliance Jam XIV

Keith @ the Fox - photo by Sam Holloway- for the Grateful Web

Not-for-profit Conscious Alliance - feeding America's hungry through music - ramps up this year's holiday giving with the announcement of their 5th annual "Holiday Meal Drive."  With the support of musicians and their fans, and this year in partnership with Whole Foods Market, the organization will deliver full holiday meals to impoverished Native American Reservations for the fifth year in a row.  The organization also hosts the Rebel Alliance Jam XIV - a holiday benefit show at Boulder, Colorado's Fox Theatre on November 29th featuring Keith Moseley, Scott Law, Jeff Sipe, Gibb Droll, and special guest Kyle Hollingsworth.

Conscious Alliance launches their holiday campaign on the heels of October's hugely successful "Back to School Snack Tour." The project brought much needed healthy snacks and school supplies to the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota.  Hot Buttered Rum joined the organization for the trip, and offered very special musical performances at local schools on the reservation.

Conscious Alliance's 5th annual "Holiday Meal Drive," in partnership with Whole Foods Market, hopes to deliver 2,500 full holiday meals to four impoverished Native American Reservations: Pine Ridge, SD; Lame Deer, MT; Houma, LA; and Tohajiilee, NM. This requires that the drive collect $25,000 in donations; last year the organization collected $16,000. As in previous years, the organization is reaching out to their alliance of music industry artists and their fans for support.  Participating artists include The String Cheese Incident, STS9, Umphrey's McGee, the Disco Biscuits, Yonder Mountain String Band, and many others. Individuals who want to donate to the 5 th annual "Holiday Meal Drive" are encouraged to visit: consciousalliance.org/donate.htm to pledge.

In other Conscious Alliance holiday traditions, this year's holiday benefit show will take place on November 29th at the Fox Theatre in Boulder, Colorado.  The Rebel Alliance Jam XIV features Keith Moseley, Scott Law, Jeff Sipe, Gibb Droll, and special guest Kyle Hollingsworth. Tickets are $18, Doors are at 8:30 PM / Show at 9:00 PM, Ages 21+.

Conscious Alliance's fall project, the "Back to School Snack Tour," recently delivered much needed healthy snacks and school supplies to Wolf Creek Reservation School on South Dakota's Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.  600 students in grades kindergarten through eighth received over 750 healthy snack bags and school supplies, including notebooks, pens, folders, backpacks, colored markers and paper. 

Not-so-traditional string band Hot Buttered Rum joined Conscious Alliance for the journey after performing a two-night fundraising concert series in Boulder, Colorado.  The band helped load and deliver the 24 foot box truck full of donated goods, and performed three special interactive shows for the students, as well as a free show for the larger Pine Ridge community.  The Pine Ridge community welcomed Hot Buttered Rum as family.  While the community knows well the generous support of bands and their fans, this was the first time any band had come with Conscious Alliance to the reservation.  While there, members of Hot Buttered Rum did an interview with KILI Radio, the voice of Lakota Nation, and were invited to partake in a traditional Lakota Sioux sweat lodge ceremony.  "It was very uplifting to be part of the Conscious Alliance experience on the reservation," says Nat Keefe of Hot Buttered Rum. "And it opened our eyes to a new way for the Hot Buttered Rum organization to be involved in service and activism." 

For 2009, Conscious Alliance continues to find ways for artists and their fans to participate in the organization's service projects, including offering students opportunities to start a Conscious Alliance Student Group at their college.

Steve Earle: Renaissance Man and American Rebel

photo by Ted Barron- for the Grateful Web

There are vast depths to singer/songwriter Steve Earle. Not only is he one of the best creative writers in music, having received thirteen Grammy nominations and winning two for Best Contemporary Folk Album, but he writes soundtracks for movies and television (P.S. I Love You, Brokeback Mountain, Pay It Forward, The Horse Whisperer, G.I. Jane, Dead Man Walking, and many more).  He's also an actor, having appeared regularly in the HBO prison drama The Wire, and he paints a little, too.

Earle ran his own record label for a few years. "I started a label called E Squared with a friend of mine named Jack Emerson right after I got out of jail in 1995,"  Earle said in a recent phone conversation.  "I recorded for that label with one distribution scheme or another till about three years ago when Jack passed away.... Just having a record label kind of got to be anti art. It got to be sort of like owning a pickup truck and everybody calls you to help them move.  I was just so busy trying to keep all that going I felt like I didn't have time to concentrate on what I do." He now records with   New West Records.

He's been working on a novel for the past six years, hoping to get that magnus opus done in the next few months. He did finish a book of haiku, a full year's worth of little gems, written one-a-day from wherever he was on the planet. He also published a collection of short stories called Doghouse Roses. In eleven stories, he told the tales of people struggling with drugs, trying to make it in the music industry, or living nightmares in Vietnam. Unfortunately, the literary world raked these human portraits over their ivory tower braziers. Earle never intended to create great art, just human art. And, he's been doing that for decades through multiple artistic genres.

"There's not as much difference as people would think between the job of writing and singing a song or acting or writing a book or a play," Steve Earle said. "The jobs aren't that far apart." Each one, calls upon the artist to walk in someone else's shoes to convey the story. "Some people get confused about that," he said, "but it is the way I approached doing it....That's the job. For me, it always has been."

Earle has the uncanny ability to create unforgettable characters, especially in his songs. Responding to a rough cut of the film Dead Man Walking that screenwriter/director Tim Robbins sent him, Earle wrote a gut-wrenching song about a prison guard called "Ellis Unit One."  "In The Horse Whisperer, I wrote a song based on the character as I saw it," Earle said, referring to the Robert Redford character, Tom Booker, who had finesse with people as well as horses. "I actually put words into the mouth of one of the characters in the movie."

However, that ability to get inside a character once caused media to vilify him. When "John Walker's Blues," which he wrote in 2002 about the young man who came to be known as the American Taliban, started hitting radio stations, it sent a shock wave throughout the country, with some  stations refusing to play it and causing talking heads to smack their mouths in a media frenzy. Yet, anyone who actually listened to the song understood that Earle wasn't being un-American. He merely saw a human being in the eyes of John Walker Lindh.  "I have a son that's exactly the same age as John Walker Lindh," Earle said. "I was really relating to that as a father. I saw that kid on TV. He was strapped to board, a skinny 20-year-old kid, and I had a skinny 20-year-old kid of my own at the time."

Earle's skinny little kid, Justin Townes Earle, is now 26 and he'll be playing at the Winnipeg Folk Festival this week. "He's been playing since he was 13 or 14," Earle said. "He was one of those post modern Nirvana fans. He was too young to have been a Nirvana fan when Cobain was alive. The acoustic thing, for him, kind of started from listening to the Nirvana Unplugged thing on MTV. Cobain was doing what he called 'Where Did You Sleep Last Night' and I always called 'In the Pines.'  My son was talking about how much he liked that song and I told him it was a Leadbelly song. He got into my records and my Leadbelly records are right next to my Lighting Hopkins records. He sort of went from there." Earle also had video recordings of some of these roots players, including Lightning Hopkins. "He could literally watch those and watch where they were putting their fingers. He plays that stuff really well."

But six years ago, Steve Earle steeled himself for the onslaught that his songwriting would produce. Even before he wrote the lyrics, he ignored advice from fellow musician Elvis Costello and others not to write it.  "I knew people were going to freak out," Earle remembered. "I had to make a conscious decision to write it anyway. I wrote it because I was genuinely inspired to do it." Still, he knew that he would not be understood. "There are a lot of people out there who only listen to every third word. At that point in time, most people were reacting to the reaction of a handful of people whose job is to overreact to stuff for the entertainment value of overreacting, the Rush Limbaughs, the New York Post.....I mean, if you're not pissing off the New York Post like I did, then you're not doing your job."

Though Earle's latest recording, Washington Square Serenade, doesn't have a song like "John Walker's Blues" on it, the album is no less stirring. His "City of Immigrants" was written to remind TV pundits who rail against immigration that this country was founded by and continues to prosper because of immigrants. And, "Oxycontin Blues," which is probably the most rootsy cut on this album, is about the widespread addiction of this painkiller in the South where it's known as Hillbilly Heroin.

"Before everybody learned the word from Rush Limbaugh, it was in the news," Earle said. "I lived in Tennessee for 32 years. It was in the news in Tennessee, Kentucky, and Virginia. People were crushing it up and either eating it or injecting it or snorting it, and they would die. Tennessee is one of the most landlocked states in the United States; it borders seven other states. It has just never had a particularly dependable supply of class A narcotics. It's always been that way. They've always been expensive and hard to get them in there....Dilaudid was the drug of choice when I was using. Nowadays, it's OxyContin."

Earle is currently touring with his wife, Alison Moorer, (Mrs. Earle number seven, by the way).

He will bring a bus load of instruments: a bouzouki, a mandolin, harmonica, tamboura, harmonium, several guitars including a resonator guitar and a 12 string, and his trusty banjo, a copy of an old White Lady open backed model made by Bart Rider made it. "I only know how to play the kind of banjo that scares sheep. It's a very, very primitive instrument in my hands," Earle said. All of these instruments were used on Washington Square Serenade.


His shows will also feature a club DJ, which you would never expect from an organic roots performer like Earle. However, he does have a very good reason for bringing this guy along. "The way we arrived at this record was over beats," Earle explained. "I recorded loops for the most part and played most of the instruments myself. Much of that I could have done solo, and that would have been fine. But for 'Satellite Radio' and 'Way Down in the Hall,' I just couldn't figure out how I was going to do them live. Then, John King, who produced the record and was also a DJ, suggested that I get a DJ. As it turned out my monitor engineer was a club DJ, and we started experimenting with it, and it works. You just have to see it."

Earle sees another album in the near future, as well as a lot more acting. "I'm doing a film in the fall," he said. "And I'll probably be acting more because I'm starting to get asked to.  I like doing it, and the insurance is better."

But he keeps songwriting ever most in his creative repertoire. "Still, my day job is making records and writing songs.  But all the other stuff, I bring back to my home-base craft.  I found that it makes it better."

Steve Earle grabs life and wrings as much meaning—and stories - out of it as he can, giving this Renaissance rebel a deep understanding of the human heart and human hunger. Catch Earle live in his new tour or savor his latest album Washington Square Serenade.

Conscious Alliance Hosts the Rebel Alliance Jam IX

photo by Tim Hurley- for the Grateful Web

Conscious Alliance is excited to announce their Rebel Alliance Jam IX and Toy Drive at the Fox Theatre on December 8th.  The annual holiday benefit event will support the children of the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota.  All patrons who donate one unwrapped toy (of at least a $10.00 value) or $10.00 will receive a limited edition poster by artist Will Ruocco.

The Rebel Alliance Jam is a Conscious Alliance tradition that features a rotating line up of exceptional musicians, who come together often times for rare collaborations to support the initiatives of Conscious Alliance.  This year, MOCAPAY and KCUV 102.3 (Denver) will host the Rebel Alliance Jam IX, taking place December 8th, 2007 at Boulder, Colorado's Fox Theatre.  Rebel Alliance Jam IX will feature Kyle Hollingsworth (The String Cheese Incident), Fareed Haque (Garaj Mahal), Dave Watts & Dominic Lali (The Motet), Alex Botwin & Lane Shaw (Pnuma Trio), Danny Sears & Zivanai Masango (Chris Berry & Panjea Allstars), Jamie Janover (Zilla) and very special guests still to be announced.

Show details are as follows:
Rebel Alliance Jam IX and Toy Drive
Saturday, December 8 th @ 8:30 pm (Doors @ 8:00 pm)
Fox Theatre
1135 13th Street, Boulder
Tickets $18.00, $13.00 with MOCAPAY at Albums on the Hill / Ages 21+ Welcome
For more information please visit www.foxtheatre.com

All tickets purchased using MOCAPAY as a payment method receive a $5.00 discount.  To learn more about MOCAPAY and to sign up, please visit http://www.mocapay.com.

Tune into KCUV online.

Already this holiday season, Conscious Alliance delivered donations collected during their 4th Annual Turkey n' Trimmings holiday food drive.  This year, the organization collected upwards of 2,500 holiday turkey boxes and have also expanded outreach to include additional communities in South Dakota and Montana, and in New Mexico and Louisiana as well. In 2006, Conscious Alliance distributed approximately 1,000 holiday turkey boxes to people in need in South Dakota and Montana.

Conscious Alliance's Youth Against Hunger project (YAH) offers exciting alternative service-learning experiences for college students during their fall/spring breaks.  YAH synthesizes service learning by combining education and hands-on service.  The inaugural YAH trip took place October 21-26, 2007, with students from Warren Wilson College (Asheville, NC) participating.  YAH students learned about hunger related issues, as well as Lakota culture, by providing compassionate cross-cultural community service on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota.  While on the reservation, students lodged with community leaders Floyd and Natalie Hand, as they sorted and distributed food to community members in need, aided with home repairs for Lakota families, participated in educational sessions with Lakota elders, and communicated with Pine Ridge college students and peers about current cultural, social, economic, and environmental issues.  Conscious Alliance's YAH provides students with the knowledge and support they need to return to their respective communities and, using the skills they have acquired, create positive change in their local communities.  The next YAH trip will take place in spring 2008.  For more information on Conscious Alliance and YAH, and upcoming service learning opportunities, please visit http://www.consciousalliance.org/projects.yah.htm.

Conscious Alliance December Food Drive events include:

November 31-December 01 Catalyst Santa Cruz CA STS9
December 08 Fox Theatre Boulder CO Rebel Alliance Jam IX
December 28-December 31 Tabernacle Atlanta GA STS9
December 29-December 31 Fillmore Denver CO Yonder Mountain String Band

In addition, a Mimi Fishman Foundation Auction.  Conscious Alliance is a Partner of America's Second Harvest.

Conscious Alliance & Bioneers Present The Rebel Alliance Jam

photo by Amanda Bell- for the Grateful Web

Conscious Alliance is proud to present Rebel Alliance VIII on Saturday, October 20, 2007 at the Boulder Theater. For this eighth event in the Conscious Alliance benefit concert series, Michael Kang (The String Cheese Incident), Keith Moseley (The String Cheese Incident, Keller Williams and The WMD'S), and Chris Berry & Panjea will perform with guests to be announced for one very special evening of music.

Each Rebel Alliance VIII performer will participate in the Colorado Bioneers Conference happening at the CU Boulder campus that same weekend. Michael Kang, Keith Moseley, and Chris Berry, together with Conscious Alliance founder Justin Baker, will speak as panelists on the Bioneers session entitled "Activism through Art and Music." The panel will explore how musicians and artists are achieving profound social change locally and globally as well as their sources of inspiration and worldly visions.  For more information on this panel and other events taking place throughout the weekend, please visit http://www.ecenter.colorado.edu/bioneers07.

Boulder  is one of 21 communities in North America with a Bioneers satellite forum. Bioneers is the preeminent gathering of leading scientific innovators & environmental visionaries who offer practical solutions to the most pressing environmental and social issues of our time. Visit www.bioneers.org for more information.

Proceeds from the Rebel Alliance Jam VIII will benefit Conscious Alliance www.consciousalliance.org and Our Future Now www.ourfuturenow.org.  Every patron attending this year's show is encouraged to donate $10.00 or 10 canned food items in exchange for a free limited edition poster by artist Timothy Ripley www.timothyripley.netfirms.com.

Since its inception three years ago, Boulder-based not-for-profit Conscious Alliance has collected and donated over 500,000 lbs. of food to local U.S. food banks and to impoverished Indian Reservations in the western United States.  The bulk of food collected at Rebel Alliance VIII will go directly to Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota in accordance with the first annual Conscious Alliance Student Service Trip, while money donations collected will be used to support "Turkey n' Trimmings" food deliveries over the Thanksgiving holiday.  For more information please visit www.consciousalliance.org.

Also, check out Chris Berry & Panjea, featuring Dave Watts and Dominic Lalli from The Motet, October 19th at Quixotes in Denver.